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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Rob Van Dam: Up In Smoke
July 8, 2006 by Kjorteo Kalante


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Rob Van Dam is a colossal idiot.

Before I receive too many death threats, allow me to explain myself. Rob Van Dam spent years as the internet wrestling community's favorite underdog. He was the greatest wrestler to never have won the biggest title. He was proof that Vince McMahon was out of touch-after all, why is he pushing other people when Rob Van Dam hasn't won a title yet" RVD achieved an adoring "if only" status, perhaps only rivalled by Christian.

Finally, his recognition came. He beat John Cena in a match with the most intense crowd reaction in recent history. He won not one, but two championships, and carried them both with a confident presence not seen since Chris Jericho carried both championships with him as the Undisputed Champion. After years of supporters pining for his big push, it was there. He was on top, and he deserved it.

Then, just when it appeared he was ready to enjoy his long-overdue reign, he lost both his titles in less than a month, and was suspended the same night. A few days ago, he was a dual champion. Now, he's not even on the active roster. What happened"

Like most too-short reigns, it's easy to blame Vince for being stupid and holding people back. However, RVD got himself in some serious trouble, and being completely removed from the picture is actually an example of writers trying to work around a sudden development. For those who know the story, you can skip the rest of this paragraph. For those who haven't heard yet: Rob Van Dam was driving a car with Sabu as a passenger, when they were pulled over for speeding. Upon confronting the two, the officer sensed marijuana. After a short search, RVD was busted for 18 grams of pot and 5 Vicodin pills, and Sabu was busted for miscellaneous paraphernalia and 9 pills of an unknown "controlled substance." In accordance with WWE's new wellness policy, RVD has been suspended without pay for 30 days, while Sabu was fined $1,000.

I, for one, am totally in support of this. It's not like the rules were a sudden shock or great unknown. Vince had a huge meeting with the entire roster as he explained every point, pausing to ask several times if anyone had any questions. There is footage of this meeting on WWE.com. Also, I don't care how well you can wrestle or how long you were held back without a push; driving under the influence is *not cool.* No, most of my frustration is at RVD himself, who completely blew a chance that the entire internet wrestling community was tearing their hair out waiting for him to get.

There is good news to be had, though. First, this incident is a perfect testing ground for the new wellness policy. Sure, it's easy to say that a new policy is there, especially when the fallout of Eddie Guerrero's death is strongly pushing sympathy toward adopting one. However, there was concern about what the WWE would actually do if someone important violated it. If they let RVD off the hook, then it would send the message that the new policy is meaningless. I'm glad that they're not afraid to take action against anyone, even someone carrying two championships. (Of course, the jury is still out on what would happen if Triple H got caught with steroids, but even still.) Also, there are new champions. Congratulations to Edge, whose last reign was entirely too short, and who will hopefully now have a chance to shine. Big Show is...average, but you could certainly do worse. Plus, according to Wikipedia, Big Show is now the first person to hold the WWE, WCW, and ECW titles. Milestones are neat.

ECW itself is in a mess right now, but there is a very small chance to turn this into a surprisingly good angle. I am positive this will go completely ignored, so this may be considered fantasy booking at this point, but it's an idea worth mentioning. First, I feel that Paul Heyman's heel turn was not a good idea. ECW needs Heyman as their roguish father, a Robin Hood-like figure who defies "the man" and brings ECW to the fans. Heyman is just not suited to be an Eric Bischoff-like evil manager figure. He pulled it off on SmackDown!, but I highly doubt it will fly on ECW.

A better scenario would involve Heyman cutting a promo where he explains himself to the crowd with more or less the same reasoning I just stated here: that RVD blew it. I personally feel that the WWE has made too many Eddie Guerrero references and that he should be allowed to rest in peace already, but this might actually be a justified excuse. "You deliberately ignored a policy set out in Eddie's memory! How could you"" If they take that angle far enough, it could even lead to a perfect excuse to debut the straight-edge sensation, C.M. Punk. Heyman has booked for OVW, so he has to know that Punk is waiting for the call-up. Of course, getting the idea past Vince is another matter.

In closing, and on a slightly different subject, I do have to offer a little sympathy. Pot is stupid, and there is no excuse for driving under the influence, but there's also the matter of the painkillers. Let's face it: if there's anyone out there who really *does* need that many painkillers, it would be Sabu. In an ideal world, house shows would be phased out so that the wrestlers wouldn't be taking that many bumps for no reason, thus leading to painkiller abuse in the first place. However, that's the subject for an entirely different column.

Kjorteo Kalante ..


Keith wrote:
Fine then. We'll all admit that smoking pot while driving is stupid but then by the rest of the world's logic so is watching men in tights pretending to fight. What's stupid is that Rob got caught. What's stupid is that there are laws outlawing marijauna to protect both the alcohol and tobacco industries (not to mention protecting logging companies from industrial hemp). What's stupid is Rob being suspended from action for violating a wellness program designed to curb the use of dangerous drugs like steroids and cocaine. What is really stupid is that here is an "exteme" company showing us extemely poor judgement. So Rob becomes a victim to a company policy it is his own fault for work for the company in the first place. I like wresling a lot and I'll still end up watching it every so often when one of my favorites is on top. I watched every second of Jericho as champ same with Benoit. And when they lost I stopped watching because it is less interesting. Because why waste time doing something you don't enjoy. As for Rob if he likes his weed, good. I just hope he drinks his water for the next month so he can pass his piss test. Some might say he broke the law and that the law is the law. I say if the law is the law and the law is stupid. That, And Somoa Joe is still undefeated (technically).
Brandon Young wrote:
I'm here to inform you that RVD was not driving under the influence. He only had the drugs on him. Also, I can't help but wonder how many people are calling RVD and Sabu idiots right now for smoking pot, but then those same people are going out to friend's houses and bars and getting drunk. Alcohol intoxicates you to. The only difference is one is legal and the other isn't. The world is full of hypocrites and wrestling fans are not excluded.
Gus Patrick wrote:
As much I am a fan of the whole damn show, RVD screwed himself. He knew there was a chance he was going to get caught with the drugs he had, same with Sabu. RVD had it all, two titles,fans cheering him over Cena (LOL)!
Kevin wrote:
First off I would like to say thank you for writing a decent column about this and not putting what the WWE said into your own words. Now I do not condone what RVD or Sabu did. But I am also not stupid. I know that RVD smoked weed for some time. I mean come on look back to his time in ECW when it was first around. Hell watch the intro for the commentary for his match on the Rise and Fall DVD. Sabu you had to figure he was on something with the amount of stuff he does, I mean the man is insane. Now RVD did infact screw up and at the wrost time. ECW really needs RVD right now and he is'nt there to carry the ball. The "New Vision" of ECW sucks right now and needs to get better. Now I am happy that Rob has taken responsiblity for his actions as well as Sabu. That is a stand up thing in my mind. Also I have no doubt in my mind that when RVD comes back from his suspension that he will be once again back on top of the ECW and if not the wrestling world. But for now we can all say DAMN YOU ROB, and man did he screw himself. But at the end of the 30 days we will all forgive and forget and once again be reminded why RVD is called THE WHOLE F***ING SHOW!
James Watts wrote:
I wholeheartedly agree with what you're sayng in this column. It's a huge disappointment for all of RVD's loyal fans (and I enjoy watching Rob Van Dam more than any other wrestler under the WWE banner) for him to be given the huge opportunity and throw it all away in a moment of carelessness. That said, I'm sure that you're right and that WWE could debut the straight-edge CM Punk in ECW and have him scold RVD for losing two titles through "drug abuse", thus starting a Punk-Van Dam rivalry. That would be kickass!
Jesse Lee wrote:
I was just surprised hearing about fans chanting "F--- You Vince" at last week's ECW. I suspect most of them were smarks who started. This confused me. On one had, they doubted he'd ever use the Wellness Program on someone important, then when he does, he gets ridiculed. On another note, RVD was the one who f--- up, not Vince. And this coming from a huge RVD fan.....
Jon Rosaler wrote:
Now Again, like RVD, I enjoy comics and RVD is like Superman to me and his fans, but Mary jane is apparently his kryptonite. With Sabu, I'm a bit confused, is he suppose to be Jimmy Olsen" Superman's pal" He gets fined, but what" No pay deduction or what" When RVD comes back, him and Sabu should once again become the ECW tag team champions, that would make up for RVD's misdeeds and everyone can trust him again.
Larry wrote:
I hate to say it but I agree with you.I mean RVD deserved the title for a long time he finally gets the belt and then he blows it by doing drugs.I mean he would of probally lost the WWE title soon but it was a stupid move by him finally being on top of the wrestling then blowing everything by doing drugs.I mean if you gonna light one up don't drive.And yes i agree if anyone does need pain killers it Sabu,that guy puts everything on the line every time he wrestles.I'm a fan of both RVD and Sabu but there is no excuse for doing drugs and driving.I never done drugs and never plan to.RVD got off easy though,I though they were suppose to fire people for that.Well i guess since them two basically make up ECW their not gonna get in that much trouble.Heck what if they fired RVD,ECW would die.Same thing with HHH and Raw and ............who's on SD again"""""""" anyway my point is if i have a job and got caught for drugs i would be terminated right away and i think it should be the same in WWE.
Taylor Armstrong wrote:
A friend of mine told me he had read about this on wwe.com when it was first posted. Perhaps I'm in some sort of denial, but my initial reaction was that it had to be a work. Call me hopeful, but I just don't see what the WWE is getting by releasing this info. It seems like if RVD and Sabu did get in legal trouble, that the WWE would keep it hush-hush. It may seem like a stretch, but does anyone else feel this way" Perhaps it could just be an elaborate plot to further develop ECW and it's seemingly wild characters. I'm probably just delusional and frustrated.
Joe Spaz wrote:
To further this accurate point by Kjorteo, let us look at how the mainstream media and public perceive professional wrestling. The first thing that comes to mind is "all wrestlers are on steroids" OK that's pretty narrow minded from a non-wrestling fan. Now from casual fans to OWW fans we may question some superstars. But it is how wrestling is perceived is what makes it successful. Vince and the WWE made the right move by suspending RVD and having him drop his titles. Think about if RVD remained champ, what does this say to the public" It is OK to use pot and still be successful" What kind of X would that put on the WWE and wrestling as a whole. Every time from now until ever, RVD will be on TV, what will you as a fan think of him. Also, what do you think every time you see Hacksaw Jim Duggan" Cancer and being busted for Cocaine with the Iron Sheik.

Also if you the average person were busted with any aspect of drugs while driving what would happen" Car towed and impounded and sent to the station where you have to post bond. Would you be suspended for 30 days or fired" Also if RVD left the WWE he would be welcome to any other wrestling organization. How hard would it be for you to find a job with a drug possession charge on you record, when a company does a background check on you"

In closing, RVD got off easy as did Sabu. And as Kjorteo said, let's also let Eddie rest in peace and stop adding his name to storylines and victories.
Paul Fisher wrote:
Wel first off, all you idiots trying to one up each other with the specifics of RVD's arrest. Shut up, none of you know the whole truth. Except that Rob and Sabu were pulled over and searched. During the search drugs were supposedly found. No one here works for WWE or are the arresting officers in the case. Secondly, I understand WWE's move in removing both belts from Rob and then suspending him. It was a move they had to do. I don't think Vince would have wanted to do this so quickly but wrestlers live real lifes. And sometimes real life effects storylines. Rob's bad fortune was Edge's good-luck. Now as whether Rob is an idiot. No, WWE and any one who knows Rob has known that he smokes Marijuana pretty regularly. There's a reason he was on the cover of High Times. It wasn't cause he was a high-flyer. As for his punishment neither Rob nor Sabu will see jail time. WWE lawyers will see to that, will the two of them lose some money, and there positions within the company. Of course. Rob did something dumb, but he is not the first wrestler to do this. Sadly he won't be the last. And in 30 days I will be excited to see him return. Hopefully he and Sabu both learned some lessons. From this. Whatever your drug of choice is, or maybe you only imbide alcohol. Do not pass judgement on these men, they are quality entertainers who did something dumb. And luckily or unluckily were caught by the police.
Vince wrote:
I have more respect for RVD now than ever. Everybody who is criticizing him is being really closed minded. Just because something is the law does not make it right. Alcohol is a legal drug which kills more people through alcohol poisoning, kidney failure, car accidents, ect. than every illegal drug combined. Weed shouldn't be illegal and RVD shouldn't have to stop smoking if he doesn't want to.

It's sounds silly, but RVD is a damn hero. A lot of other people in his position would do everything in their power to toe the company line and the status quo, and be a politically correct kissass to keep their job, and if they did anything it would be to drink beer like a good ol' boy, but RVD is still his own man. It takes more cojones to be a rebel and do what you think is right instead of being another wrestler with a beer gut. Of course, it would take even more guts to just quit drugs altogether, but the fact is, most people have a psychological need for release, whether it be through cigarrettes, alcohol, sex, drugs or rock n roll.

Everybody thinks they can judge RVD just because he got caught breaking a stupid law, but they are wrong to judge. The only person drugs hurt are the user, and people should be allowed to do what they want with their own bodies. It's not like rape, or armed robbery, or murder. It's a victimless crime that shouldn't be a crime at all. If we really wanted to help drug users we would put more effort into educating people about drugs rather than incarcerating them and treating them like dogs.

RVD didn't screw RVD. Vince McMahon screwed RVD by letting the status quo get in the way of good business. Drugs or not, RVD is an awesome talent. If you fired every wrestling star that every drank, or did steriods, or drugs, there'd be a pretty flimsy ass roster of wrestlers and we'd have been missing out on a lot of great wrestling.

It's so stupid that Vinnie Mac had RVD lose his titles within 48 hours of being caught. I mean, we all know wrestling is predetermined, but we as the audience don't need to be slapped in the face with it like that. At least strip him of the titles without having him lose. At most, let a rebel hold the belt. How awesome would it be if he just holds the title for the next 6 years all the while cutting promos on how weed should be legal. But Vinnie Mac's withered grapefruits aren't big enough.

Also, the Brisco brothers, Roddy Piper, and Bill Watts all smoked up and probably still do. Why aren't we asking for their heads" Because it's stupid and so is all this criticism of RVD.
Carl Haske wrote:
ok, first of all your wrong. Pot should the LEAST of all drugs to worry about, we have people killing people everyday for not paying for there crack, heroin, crystal meth, even Extasy. RVD getting pulled over is no big deal, i read somebody saying that alcolhol does worse and he's right. He may have been suspended but at least he wasn't fired, and RVD was smoking some fatties in old ECW days anyway and he was still on top of the mountain and it was part of his persona in the first place; remember RVD 4:20""" here's a couple of things why you think "pot is stupid," You got firearms legal who could be bought by the wrong people at any time, you got alcolhol that kills more people in the history of the freakin world, and you got dangerious perscribed pills that people take everyday that people can die from. Now your gonna say a plant is bad and it's stupid and has to be illegal"!" like the old saying goes "God made pot, Man made beer, Who do you trust"" catch my drift"
JD wrote:
Intelligently written, eh" Seems like a joke. What I see here, is an athlete, who made a mistake. A man comments on it, only attempting to inform us, the solid ECW fans, who followed this since '93, and teenagers have to ruin this" I saw this article, and I knew I had to read it. But, at the same point in time, I knew goofy, pot loving teens would be ready to shout their idiotic opinions. God made pot" Possible, as a medical assistant. But, be honest. Where in the Bible is intoxication applauded" Seems outlawed to me. So, why is drinking legal" Because, it's possible to drink, and not excess. My pastor at my local church HAS to drink one beer, each night. But, does he do it in front of his children" No. Hound Vince if you want to. But think about it for one second. Aren't there some things more important than money, or wrestling"
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